I am Sushmita Chavan, Founder and CEO of Hexa, a platform designed to boost the campus placement ratio of colleges. I am happy to share that we have partnered with top colleges across the country in different regions. It was never an easy ride to be here, right from choosing the career option. Coming from a doctor family and raised to become one, it was my first hurdle to convince my parents that I have some different thoughts and dreams. After some family fights and eventually their support I landed up in a tier 2 college.
In a tier 2 college your biggest fear is, “Will I get a job or not?”, my fellow friends who studied in tier 2 college will agree with me. Same was the case with me, I lived 4 years of my college with this fear but to my surprise I landed into a job on campus drive but many of my friends didn’t. That is the first time this question “Why did not everyone [get placed]?” sparked my mind. I continued my journey in this IT company, but something was not right, this was not something for which I fought with my family. 9-5 job was not making me happy, I was looking for something bigger, something to make an impact on people's lives but what’s that?
Then I started exploring the things in my free time to find my interest and passion? Starting from designing, game development, coding, blogging, digital marketing etc but nothing gave me more satisfaction than reading the business stories. I started getting interest in everything in and around business. I started reading more and more about business and entrepreneurship but what was holding me back was lack of confidence and belief in myself and fear of getting failed. To gain some confidence and learn more, I started attending open conferences, networking events and meetups. I met a lot of people with expertise in varied domains, learned some bit of business, gained some inner strength, some discouraged too from starting up, from entering business at a young age but steadily after 11 months of ups and downs I learned every entrepreneur has a problem to solve and for me I still had that spark in mind which reminded me how much we struggled to get placed in a single company and the problem was we didn't have enough guidance and resources to make it through, getting placed in was the most difficult challenge for me and my friends. That was the moment, back in 2017, when I found my problem, when spark turned into fire and when fear turned into passion and when I along with my Co-founder, Shubam Goyal, started Hexa to give personalized learning to students and increase their visibility among corporates and help them achieve their dreams.
Now the real roller coaster ride of a B2B startup starts, full of challenges, sleepless nights and some solutions. We laid the plan, started everything from scratch, Shubam owned the product and I chose my expertise in sales and strategy. Our first problem, none us was a developer! Trust me, its hardest problem in a startup to find the right team. We reached out to friends, looked at linkedin profiles, asked co-workers, after one month of battle we found our technology lead, Devinder Prasad and our content matter expert, Sharada Wante. We started building the product, but now we had to find business development guys, marketers and more software engineers. That took over 4-5 months and we finally made a strong team of 12 members.
It didn’t end here, each day brought a new challenge. Content is the strength of Hexa, we started exploring efficient ways of content delivery, we needed a studio room and good quality camera for making video tutorials. Cameras were very costly so we had to rent one. Things went smooth till we came across another biggest challenge, efficient marketing to outstand in the overflowing social-media. Marketing is a challenge for everyone, especially a B2B company but it becomes even more challenging when your target audience is not on social media, networking channels and video streaming sites. Training and Placement officers being a niche audience we had to go personal, personal emails, personal messages, in-person visits. We spearheaded large scale research in India for almost one year to find out what are the top challenges faced by students and colleges to achieve their goals and we just planted the seed of Hexa as why we need a new approach to enable students to withstand industry expectations and get better placements. After a year when the product was ready to go in market, the seed gave the fruit, we found our first customer, one of those institutes that we visited year back. The first customer is always hard but it is always a good feedback mechanism to improve your product and deliver exactly what you are meant for. Partnership with this college helped us improve our in-depth insights, design personalised learning path for students and even more improved, interactive way of content delivery.
We grew from one to five colleges, five to further more in 2 quarters and we are here today with a new and never ending problem, retaining and engaging the user with your product. If you are aspiring to be an entrepreneur, this would be my personal advice, make user retention and engagement as part of your first plan that you make to start-up. We faced so many obstacles in finding, acquiring and engaging the users but all these obstacles enabled us to find new methods to solve problems and gave tremendous learning.
“If you are facing failure right now it is a good time to understand that this is going to be a story at one point of time in your life. If you believe what you are doing is right, you believe that you are going to make it happen, then you must stop listening to some people, there will always be some naysayers but you should only listen to your heart and follow your heart and turn your fear into your passion”